Friday, April 26, 2013

holding people in the fragile places

when i arrived at the arena on wednesday night my cell phone was sitting snug in my back pocket.

the most recent texts that it held contained prayer requests for a friend who was counseling another friend filing for divorce and a young woman in her twenties who is 5 months into her first pregnancy and has just been diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

as i joined thousands of other voices in worship i was keenly aware of the cell phone in my pocket and the fragile lives represented there.  i held the names of these women in my heart and whispered their names aloud during a time of collective prayer.
i often weep when i receive prayer requests.  some tears are born from a place of broken heartedness for those requesting and others are born from a deeper place where i know i am privileged to approach God's throne on their behalf.  i think i was created to connect with people in the fragile places.

sometimes i feel a heavy burden in lifting those names, those souls, up in my incapable hands to a capable God.  then i remember that my prayers hold no special power but my God does and my prayers are precious to him.  all of our prayers are precious to him.

i will never forget discovering the words of john.  

he had spent years in the company of jesus so i feel confident that he knew the heart of God.  at the point when he wrote these words he had lived a long life of knowing God and making him known to others.  God revealed to john some pretty amazing things about the life to come and although i don't understand it all {how could we?  it's still yet to come} i received this particular part like a gift a couple of years ago...

...they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people.

i don't know if you pray or not.  even if you don't completely buy into this whole christian thing you might offer up a prayer from time to time...it might be screamed out loud or just barely breathed.  any way that you communicate with God is cool...even if you're not 100% sure you believe in him.  you don't have to work for a church or go to seminary to pray.

i'm not nearly as disciplined in my prayer life as i would like to be.  most often my prayers are spontaneous and unplanned.  sometimes they involve me closing my eyes other times they don't.  sometimes i grab the hand of another and other times i am all alone.  i don't think the specific way we do it is nearly as important as the fact that we do it.  but...every once in a while i begin to wonder if my words are just filling up air momentarily and then get blown away...forever lost.

this week as i re-read john's words and join my voice with the voices of others who believe, i am reminded that i couldn't be further from the truth.  God not only hears every word {spoken and unspoken} but he keeps them.  he actually has a place for them in heaven.  our prayers aren't stuffed in a cardboard box in the back of a dark closet somewhere...they are held in golden bowls in the arms of heavenly beings and they are still at work filling the very air of heaven with their sweet scent.  is that not amazing?  it gives me goosebumps every time i remember.

if you think your prayers don't matter...think again.